The continuous call to conversion

This year’s annual meeting of European delegates to the social apostolate has just taken place in Bilbao.  Nine different provinces were represented, including Paul Chitnis from Jesuit Missions representing Britain.  The theme of the meeting was conversion, presented as being a continuous process.  The challenge in the field of the social apostolate is in getting many inspiring initiatives to work together more. A constant call to conversion is in fostering collaboration within the different social works as well as connecting them better with the Society’s educational, research and vocational efforts.

As well as looking at how they are working together, the areas in which conversion was explored most thoroughly, encouraged by the pope and the recent 36th General Congregation, where ecology and spirituality. Patxi Alvarez SJ, a Spanish Jesuit, gave an important input on the spirituality of the social apostolate. He invited the group to ponder various spiritual sources and the characteristics of the promotion of justice through the Ignatian way of embracing tension and its possible fruitfulness. Paul reported back that, “It was really important that Britain was represented and it was very inspiring meeting Jesuits working in difficult situations,”  particularly memorable was meeting a French Jesuit in Toulouse working in prison.

The group also visited some of the Jesuit social projects in Bilbao and San Sebastian. In the latter city, the visit to Arrupe Etxea, a welcoming community of hospitality with Jesuits, ex-prisoners, lay people and a diocesan priest, made a big impact.  Paul observed, “It was really inspiring to see Jesuits in community, living the Ignatian vocation with others in need, the sense of sharing in the community was very powerful to witness”.

The next meeting will be in Milan in 2018.